Hedgehogs in Addingham

Posted by: Don Barrett at 14:56, November 2 2017.
Hedgehogs in Addingham
Last Monday Doctor Hedgehog (aka Stephanie Murie) came to talk to the 1st Addingham Brownies at the Methodist Church Hall and she brought along Trixabelle, one of her rescue hoggies. Trixabelle lost a back leg when she was only two weeks old, so she’s grown up with only three legs. She needs to stay in Stephanie’s Hoggie Hospital in Bingley for the rest of her life as she’s not fast enough on her feet to escape predators and, without one of her back legs to scratch with, she would have difficulty keeping clean in the wild.
With the help of Trixabelle, Stephanie gave the Brownies a fascinating insight into hedgehog life from their food preferences, their nocturnal life-style, their defence mechanisms and their need to hibernate safely, all prompted by a series of intelligent and wide-ranging questions by the girls.
But most worryingly Stephanie and the Brownies will now tell you our national hedgehog population has been falling dramatically over recent decades. There were more than 35 million in the 1950s but there are less than one and a half million today. The reasons for this decline are not fully known but habitat loss, road kill and predation by badgers are some of the main ones. Addingham is not immune from the decline. When we asked parents, who came in towards the end of the session, who had seen a hedgehog in their garden this year only six of the twenty or so of them put their hands up.
Our village gardens need to be more hedgehog friendly – holes in fences to allow freedom of passage, definitely no slug pellets, ponds with a get-out ramp, a drinking water supply (in a non-tip bowl!) and maybe some cat or dog food (but definitely NO milk or bread).
We also need to improve our village green spaces and surrounding farmland to cater for our night-time visitors. Better hedgerows and well-vegetated field margins provide feeding corridors and protective cover from predation, and where ideally these corridors link up with our back gardens we can not only enjoy their presence and help their survival but they will help us clean up slugs, snails and caterpillars.
Next year with the help of the Brownies and their parents we plan to carry out a village hedgehog survey, simply recording sightings (where and when they are seen). We know we have populations in the Turner Lane/Moor Lane area, around Burns Hill and in Bark Lane. Where else? By repeating the survey each year we should be able to tell whether they are increasing or decreasing in number. If you want to help please let us know.